Imam al-Qadi Yusuf al-Nabhani

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The Righteous Life and Blessed Works of the Poet of the Holy Prophet – Allâh bless and greet him – the Pious Erudite Imâm al-Qâd.î Yûsuf al-Nabhânî (1265/1849-1350/1932)

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Bismillâh al-Rahmân al-Rahîm

Al-Nabhânî wrote of himself in his first published book, al-Sharaf al-Mu’abbad li-Ali Muh.ammad – Allâh bless and greet him – (1309/1891), in Asbâb al-Ta’lîf lil-`Abdi al-D.a`îf, and in Jâmi` Karâmât al-Awliyâ’ (both 1329/1911):

“I am the faqîr Yûsuf ibn Ismâ`îl ibn Yûsuf ibn Ismâ`îl ibn Muh.ammad Nâ al-Dîn al-Nabhânî. We go back to the Banû Nabhân, an Arab desert folk who settled of old in the town of Ijzim1 North of the Holy sites in the land of Palestine, presently part of the district (qad.â‘) of H.aifa in `Akka, province of Beirut. I was born in Ijzim in 1265/1849 approximately.

“I read the Qur’ân with my Master and father, the righteous Shaykh and meticulous memorizer of the Book of Allâh, Shaykh Ismâ`îl al-Nabhânî who is now [in 1891] past eighty, in full possession of his senses, of strong build and excellent health, and who spends most of his time in works of obedience.

“My father’s daily devotion in every twenty-four hours was one third of the Qur’ân, then he would complete the Qur’ân three times every week. The praise for this belongs to Allâh! {Say: In the bounty of Allâh and in His mercy: therein let them rejoice. It is better than what they hoard} (10:58).

“Then he sent me – Allâh save him and thank him on my behalf! – to Cairo for study. I entered the Mosque of al-Azhar the day of al-Sabt in early Muh.arram of the year 1283 [16 May 1866] and resided there until Rajab 1289 [October 1872]. During that time, I learnt all that Allâh destined for me to learn of the sciences of the Sharî`a and its preparatory disciplines at the hands of the accomplished teachers and major established masters of the time, any one of whom, if he were found in a place, would be the leader of its people to the gardens of Paradise and would meet their requirements in all of the sciences – the spoken and the rational.

“One of them, or rather their peerless leader was the accomplished, erudite teacher, the refuge of meticulous understanding, the Shaykh of all Shaykhs, Teacher of all Teachers, Sayyidî al-Shaykh Ibrâhîm al-Saqqâ al-Shâfi`î who died in 1298 aged around ninety years. He spent his entire blessed long life reading lessons until most of the `Ulama of our time became his students, either directly, or through an intermediary. I attended his classes – Allâh have mercy on him! – for three years and read with him the two commentaries – al-Tah.rîr and al-Manhaj – of Shaykh al-Islâm Zakariyyâ al-Ans.ârî together with their marginalia by al-Sharqâwî and al-Bujayrimî respectively.

“Also among my teachers is the venerable erudite Scholar, Sayyidî al-Shaykh al-Sayyid Muh.ammad al-Damanhûrî al-Shâfi`î who died in 1286 aged around ninety years. Also the erudite Scholar Sayyidî al-Shaykh Ibrâhîm al-Zurrû al-Khalîlî al-Shâfi`î who died in 1287 aged around seventy. Also the erudite Scholar Sayyidî al-Shaykh Ah.mad al-Ajhûrî al-D.arîr al-Shâfi`î who died in 1293 aged around sixty. Also the erudite Scholar Sayyidî al-Shaykh H.asan al-`Adawî al-Mâlikî who died in 1298 aged around eighty. Also the erudite Scholar Sayyidî al-Shaykh al-Sayyid `Abd al-Hâdî Najâ al-Abyârî who died in 1305 aged just over seventy years. Also Shaykh Shams al-Dîn Muh.ammad al-Anbâbî al-Shâfi`î the Master of al-Azhar Mosque, who died in 1313. Also Shaykh `Abd al-Rah.mân al-Sharbînî al-Shâfi`î the Master of al-Azhar Mosque, who died in 1326. Also Shaykh `Abd al-Qâdir al-Râfi`î al-H.anafî al-T.arabulsî the Master of the Damascenes’ Porch (Ruwâq al-Shawâmm) in al-Azhar Mosque, who died in 1323. Also Shaykh Yûsuf al-Barqâwî al-H.anbalî the Master of the H.anbalîs’ Porch in al-Azhar Mosque.2 [And many others, some of whom are named in Hâdî al-Murîd and Jâmi` Karâmât al-Awliyâ’.]

“[After I graduated and returned home to Ijzim] I began to hold a number of religious courses in `Akka and my home town of Ijzim. Then I travelled frequently to Beirut, then Damascus where I met the eminent `Ulama. Chief among them was the Jurist of Damascus at the time, our Master the erudite Imâm, al-Sayyid al-Sharîf Mah.mûd Effendî H.amza – Allâh have mercy on him! – with whom I read the beginning of al-Bukhârî’s S.ah.îh., after which he gave me a general certificate comprising the rest of the S.ah.îh. as well as all his other narrations and his own works. He wrote this long certificate in his superb style and handsome handwriting.

“Then I headed for Constantinople twice and worked there for several years. I edited the periodical al-Jawâ’ib until it folded. I also proofread the Arabic books that came out of its press. My monthly salary there was ten Lîras for editing and proofreading. I worked on this for about two or three hours [daily] and did it on the insistent request of the paper’s owner, Ah.mad Effendî Fâris. He considered me his greatest blessing and showed great sadness at seeing me leave for my new position with the government [as a judge]. He offered me to work as his partner or a raise, but I refused.

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